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Reducing Departure Delays for Adjacent Center Airports using Time- Based Flow Management Scheduler: Checkbox ON or OFF?  (2016)
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There is a checkbox in the Time-Based Flow Management (TBFM) scheduling window which, when checked by a Traffic Management Coordinator (TMC), makes room for a departure to fit into a crowded airborne stream. The checkbox ON algorithm accomplishes this by delaying the Scheduled Times of Arrivals (STAs) of the airborne flights upstream of the TBFM freeze horizons and compressing these flights to their minimum required spacing, thereby creating a full departure slot. Hence, having the checkbox ON can reduce the frequent ground delays of aircraft departing near high volume airports but can increase delays for airborne arrivals. A Human-in-the-Loop (HITL) simulation compared arrival and departure delays to Newark Airport (EWR) with the checkbox ON vs. OFF as the default position.

Three other conditions in this HITL involved various National Airspace System (NAS)-wide approaches for timely delivery of aircraft to the TBFM region. These conditions were: Baseline, using current Mile-in-Trail (MIT) spacing restrictions; Integrated Demand Management (IDM), where all aircraft were given departure times (Expect Departure Clearance Times, or EDCTs), ultimately based on the EWR Airport Arrival Rate; and IDM plus Required Time of Arrival (RTA), a flight deck tool which allowed some aircraft to meet a controlled time of arrival to the TBFM area more precisely.

Results showed that the checkbox tool was powerful: with the checkbox ON, departure delays decreased and airborne delays increased, as predicted. However, assuming that the cost ratio of a minute of airborne delay to a minute of departure delay is in the range of 1.2 to 3, as commonly indicated by the literature, checkbox ON and checkbox OFF conditions showed approximately equal total delay costs, i.e., the cost of delays in the air balanced the cost of the delay on the ground. The three scheduling conditions also had approximately equal total delay costs, although a simulation artifact may have reduced the delays in the Baseline condition.

In the debrief following the simulation, the TMCs concluded that the checkbox should be used flexibly depending on the current delay situation, and suggested modifications to the checkbox tool which would help them use it in this way, along with enhanced training. The relatively similar total cost of both checkbox default options in this simulation indicates that this might be a fruitful approach, and replace the necessity to have the checkbox rigidly set to either ON or OFF.
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Airborne, Checkbox, delay, delay, departure, Flow, ground delay, Management, TBFM, Time-Based
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35th Digital Avionics Systems Conference, 2016. September 25-30, Sacramento, CA
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Curator: Phil So
NASA Official: Jessica Nowinski
Last Updated: August 15, 2019